Czech name: Maiselova synagoga
Maisel Synagogue, located in the Prague Jewish Quarter (Židovská čtvrť), is an important cultural landmark erected in 1951 and sanctified in 1592. It has undergone a handful of major facelifts over several hundred years. Today, the site is owned by the city’s Jewish community and operated by the Jewish Museum in Prague.
Location & How to Get There
Maisel Synagogue’s address is Maiselova 10, Prague 1. How do you get there via public transportation? The closest metro station is Old Town — aka — Staroměstská — on the A and B lines. The 17 tram also works, and you also get off at the Staroměstská stop. From there, it’s about a three-minute walk to the synagogue.
Opening Hours & Entry
Maisel Synagogue is home to both a museum and a place of worship. The museum portion is open Sunday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. The worship temple operates between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Sunday through Friday. It’s always closed on Jewish holidays.
Note, however, that hours change monthly, so check before heading out.
What to Do & What to See
Both an educational museum and place of worship, Maisel Synagogue — in the historical Prague Jewish Quarter — is a must-see on any Prague sightseeing tour.
The Jewish Museum of Prague maintains a permanent exhibit titled Jews in the Bohemian Lands, 10th-18th Century. Visitors can use touchscreens to explore Hebrew manuscripts, settlement maps, and a database of Jewish luminaries. The museum also displays artifacts and memorabilia.
In the evenings, the museum regularly hosts concerts, author readings, and small plays.
Commissioned by 16th-century Czech Jewish leader Mordechai Maisel, with permission from then-emperor Rudolf II, the Maisel Synagogue was consecrated in 1592. The original building — a Renaissance temple with three naves — was designed by Judah Coref de Herz, and Josef Wahl supervised its construction.
In 1601, Maisel passed away and left his eponymous synagogue to Prague’s Jewish community. Disgracefully, the government disregarded the will and confiscated Maisel’s belongings, including the property — a common occurrence at the time that affected several Prague synagogues. Ultimately, the case went to court, and, after decades of trials, rights were restored to the community.
A massive fire swept through the quarter in 1689, which decimated the structure. Updates were made between 1862 and 1864. Many decades later, as part of an urban renewal initiative, architect Alfred Grotte designed a Neo-Gothic renovation. But soon after Grotte’s update, the synagogue closed its doors due to a lack of funds and dangerous interior conditions.
Fortunately, after the country’s Velvet Revolution — which ended the Czech Republic’s communist era — Maisel Synagogue secured the funding needed to update the building and welcome back the public. The last major renovation happened between 2014 and 2015.
Maisel Synagogue is one of Prague’s most important historical sites. If you’re in the city, clear an afternoon to explore the building and check out the exhibit. It’s a fulfilling experience, and you’ll be glad you went.